Belfast Telegraph

Islandmagee battle back to keep survival fight firmly in their own hands

By Martin Mawhinney

Islandmagee manager Stephen Donald is targeting a minimum of four points in his team’s vital league double-header over Ardglass after their latest win over Shankill United at the weekend.

Those points, insists the Wilbourne Park boss, should be enough to ensure for definite that the Islanders avoid relegation from the Amateur League Premier Division and would give them the opportunity to enjoy their final three league fixtures pressure-free.

If Saturday’s 2-1 victory is anything to go by, Islandmagee have all the bottle and battle to avoid the drop… even if Donald feels they were lucky to get all three points. Then again – you make your own luck.

Donald said: “I won’t tell you any lies… we sneaked it. Their keeper made a boo-boo for our last goal in the last minute, but we weren’t complaining. That three points instead of the one we were going to get could be the difference between us staying up and not.

“It also keeps our run going. It’s been a good few weeks, and we have beaten Malachians and Killyleagh and were unlucky just to get a draw against Albert Foundry.

“The important thing now is that we do well in the back-to-back games with Ardglass. I’d say a win and a draw should be enough to see us right.”

With bottom club Dromara Village already relegated, it appears to be a straightforward three-way battle to avoid the drop, with Islandmagee best poised, then Ardglass, then Dunmurry Rec, who currently lie 10 points behind the Islanders, with three games in hand.

It now means that Islandmagee will be the masters of their own destiny in the weeks ahead… but they will be without one of their key players, due to suspension.

Michael Moore was one of six first team regulars missing from Saturday’s narrow victory, and Donald says his disciplinary record this season has left the manager missing the renowned striker for much of the campaign – and he will be absent for the first of the two upcoming games with Ardglass too.

The Islandmagee boss added: “If he plays the rest of the season after his suspension, we’ll have only had him for 14 out of the 26 league games. We have actually won more points with him out of the team than in, but he is that good a player, you just can’t leave him out.”

When he comes back, he will hope to play a major role in the Islanders’ survival bid, kicking off with their home encounter with Ardglass.
Saturday will surely be looked back on as a hugely decisive day in the Premier Division title race. At the head of affairs, Crumlin Star, making up a huge fixture backlog, defeated fellow contenders Drumaness Mills with an impressive 3-1 triumph at The Cliff.

Also, playing into their hands was the fact that their other major rivals Nortel slipped up with a 1-1 draw away to Dromara Village.
Ards Rangers moved top with a 3-1 win at Killyleagh, though with only four games left, they will surely have to pick up maximum points to have even a hint of a say in proceedings.

At the bottom end of the table, Ardglass were rocked by a 4-0 thumping courtesy of Kilmore Rec, but there was a welcome 2-1 victory for Dunmurry Rec over Comber Rec.

In the league’s remaining fixture, Albert Foundry moved up to fourth after a 4-0 win at Malachians.

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